So You Don’t Want Food Poisoning

So You Don’t Want Food Poisoning

The pizza was on the counter of the best known Italian restaurant in the city. It was cold. Robert and Jennifer had heard about the restaurant for several weeks and wanted to give it a try. Robert was a germophobic—he always thought that he would pick up some life threatening illness from eating infected food. He said the pizza and said that there was no way he was going to eat It. Jennifer encouraged him to try. Robert was adamant in refusing so they decided to do an experiment. He would eat a freshly made pizza and she would eat the counter pizza. They went home and neither got sick.

It has been long known that aromatic (stinky) vegetables & spices contain natural antibiotics that help protect us from bacterial (microbial) infections. People who prefer the spiciest foods usually are from the hottest climates. The hottest spices tend to have the most antibiotics. Before there was refrigeration, foods were preserved with spices and salts. The salts would kill bacteria by making the food’s water content so concentrated with “saline” the microbes could not survive. There is a reason for spices making food so tasty. Human traits that are beneficial will be passed on to one’s offspring socially, culturally and genetically. This would include even the taste receptors in our mouths. The people who enjoyed food with the antibacterial spices were probably the ones that were healthier. They would live longer and have more children. They would teach their children the spicy way to cook a dinosaur. The spices would kelp kill not just bacteria but also fungi in the food. It seems like we all have forgotten that refrigeration has only been a recent event in human history.

The best spices that kill most bacteria are GOAO- garlic, onion, allspice and oregano. Cinnamon, thyme, tarragon and cumin kill about ¾ of all bacteria followed by chilis, hot peppers (capsicums). Further down the list are pepper, ginger, celery seeds and lemon/lime juice.

So what actually happened? The locations with hotter climates tend to use more spices than countries with colder climates. Specifically, countries like Thailand, India, Philippines, India & Malaysia are at the top of the hot/spicy food list while cold countries tend to have blander (less spicy) foods such as Denmark and Norway spices and their uses are changing. We compete with the bugs for food. We probably don’t think about it but we want to eat the same food as the bugs to survive. We will cook the food using heat, dry it to take the water out, smoke the food, spice it or salt it. All of these methods will kill bacteria. We tend to think of most of these techniques as making the food taste better but it is an acquired taste. Out taste buds like it because we have evolved to like it.

Robert continued his germophobe ways. He still was careful and tried to stay as bacteria free as possible. When there was the least bit of question about what he was going to eat he added spices to the food. He adopted a New Orleans type of cooking-known for its zesty hot taste-but mostly to try to keep from getting sick.

Key Point: Spices and some vegetables can lower you chance of food poisoning

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